POISON singer Bret Michaels has responded to DEF LEPPARD frontman Joe Elliott's assertion that bands like POISON and MÖTLEY CRÜE paid more attention to their image than their songwriting during the '80s as a way to cover up the fact that there was "no substance in their music."
During the June 6 press conference at the Sweden Rock Festival in Sölvesborg, Sweden, Joe Elliott was asked how DEF LEPPARD managed to avoid getting caught up in the whole "glam-rock" scene of the '80s even after citing such image-oriented artists as MICK RONSON, DAVID BOWIE and T.REX as major influences.
"If you actually look at the way that the 'glam' bands, if you want to call it that, from Los Angeles dressed themselves up, they totally missed the point," Elliott replied. "When English glam bands from the '70s came on 'Top of the Pops' [long-running British music chart television program], it was almost an afterthought to what they were actually doing — music always came first, and then they'd be like, 'What are we gonna wear?' . . . Bowie was very image-driven, and maybe the music came second, but a lot of the other bands, it was always about the music — the image thing was just something that they did to just upstage other bands on 'Top of the Pops'; that's what they used to do. So we were never driven to do the mascara thing or whatever these bands did. They didn't have any substance musically, I don't think, in comparison to us, so we didn't feel we needed to do it. Bands that do that are doing it to cover up the fact that there is no substance in their music. The only band — and I'm not saying it because we're here — the only band that did pull it off was [Finland's] HANOI ROCKS. I thought HANOI ROCKS were a good band, and they looked… Michael Monroe [HANOI frontman] was one of the best… I would have shagged him. [Laughs] I like Michael, I think he's sexy, and I'm not gay. And I think Andy McCoy [HANOI guitarist] does the best kind of Keith Richards... so much better than MÖTLEY CRÜE or POISON or any of those bands. They [HANOI ROCKS] were real — the rest of the guys, it was all a bit fake for me."
On June 7, Bret Michaels held his own press conference at the Sweden Rock Festival and was asked by Dimitris Barbas of the Greek webzine Rocking.gr to respond to Joe Elliott's remarks.
"Well, I didn't hear the comment, but I can say this: all I do is I sit around and play music and do stuff [related to music]," Bret replied. "I know DEF LEPPARD, for some reason, they get a kick out of wanting to knock every band. My thing in life is not about knocking any music. I mean, obviously, I'm saying this for POISON, we have not sold out, and continuously, for 20 years every arena because we care about just our appearance. The music comes first. You've gotta like 'Talk Dirty to Me' and 'Nothing but a Good Time'. And if I'm gonna go out on stage and put on a good show and play… First of all, that band [DEF LEPPARD] shouldn't be knocking anyone about their music since they just did a show called 'Dancing with the Stars' in the U.S. and they got crucified because they fucking lip-synched the entire show, so before they bust anyone's balls, I've never lip-synched a fucking thing in my life — ever! That's what makes it so funny for me, because why would you wanna bust anyone's balls? It's all of us trying to make music and do it together, and I think if you crucify somebody, it's like the pot calling the kettle black. But I have nothing against them — I like their music, and I'm sorry they feel that way. I don't wanna put HANOI ROCKS down — I know a couple of their songs, and they're really good music — but I think POISON, when you see tonight when we play, there's nothing… You walk around our stage — there's nothing behind. Everyone's out there singing and playing. For better or for worse, it's all real."
Video footage of Elliott's original comment and Bret's response can be viewed below.